Management in Health, Vol 18, No 2 (2014)

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MAGNITUDE OF BIRTH DEFECTS IN ELBASAN REGION, ALBANIA, FOR THE PERIOD 2003-2013

Sadet GJATA, Enver ROSHI, Altin GJATA, Genc BURAZERI

Abstract


BACKGROUND: Birth defects are a major cause of childhood mortality and morbidity in Albania, similar to the situation observed in other post-communist countries in Europe. Our aim was to describe the magnitude and distribution of birth defects in Elbasan region, a rather polluted area in transitional Albania.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Elbasan region covering the period 2003-2013. The information for the period 2003-2009 was available from the Albanian Ministry of Health, whereas the information for the period 2010-2013 was based on the national surveillance system on congenital malformations which was established in Albania in 2009. Cox-Stuart test was used to assess the linear trend in the increase of birth defects in Elbasan region for the period 2003-2013. Conversely, Fisher’s exact test was used to assess the distribution of birth defects by socio-demographic characteristics and birth-related factors for the period 2010-2013. 

RESULTS: Overall, there was evidence of an increase in the rate of birth defects n Elbasan region from 1.1/1000 births (in 2003) to 8.7/1000 births (in 2013). The trend over time was inconsistent notwithstanding the evidence of a borderline statistical significance (linear trend: P=0.063). During  2010-2013, there was evidence of an increase over time regarding the proportion of newborns with birth defects pertinent to rural areas of Elbasan region (P=0.04), but no relationship with mothers’ age or educational level, duration of pregnancy, and newborns’ sex or birth weight.

CONCLUSION: Our study provides useful evidence on the magnitude and distribution of congenital malformations in Elbasan region, which consists of a highly polluted area in post-communist Albania. Health professionals in Albania and other transitional settings should be aware of the means of treatment and especially prevention of birth defects.

 

Keywords: Albania, birth defects, congenital malformations, Elbasan, surveillance system


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